Despite 3D being the buzzword of choice amongst TV and home cinema fanatics, the mobile technology world is yet to really latch on, with only LG and HTC stepping up to the mark with their respective Optimus 3D and Evo 3D handsets. Both devices feature glasses-free 3D capabilities and both have the ability to capture 3D images and video on the move whilst still being very capable smartphones in their own right.
We have reviewed both the Optimus 3D and the Evo 3D in depth but have decided it time to bring the two together for a back-to-back comparison. We’ll be taking a look at three key areas of the phones and deciphering which performs best. The main areas of focus are:
- Design and hardware
- 3D specific capabilities
- Software and non-3D multimedia
We’ll endeavour to provide an overall conclusion that will discuss the best handset for your multi-dimensional needs.
Design And Hardware
Both phones follow a broadly similar theme in regards to form factor and both are notably thicker than the majority of standard dual-core smartphones, possibly owing to the 3D tech within. The LG offering is the slimmer and lighter of the two, but is also longer and wider giving it a more substantial feel in the hand.
Build quality is of a high standard in both devices, with the Evo edging out the Optimus due to the inclusion of a metal screen surround and textured rear panel. That said, the LG handset certainly doesn’t feel cheap and its stylish framing of the dual camera lenses on the rear panel is noticeably more impressive than the garish-looking HTC effort.
In the engine room, the Evo displays a clear advantage with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor over the 1.0GHz unit in the Optimus, additionally the HTC device has almost double the amount of RAM at 1GB. However, it is worth noting that the Optimus handset does contain LG’s tri-dual technology, meaning the processor and memory are utilised to their full potential in order to offer maximum efficiency.
A key characteristic of both handsets is the stereoscopic display – the technology which enables the glasses-free 3D experience – with each phone featuring an impressive 4.3-inch screen. Again, the Evo 3D offers the higher specification here with its 540 x 960 (qHD) screen bettering that of the LG, which provides a 480 x 800 (WVGA) resolution. 3D capability will be discussed later, but on 2D alone the HTC’s higher resolution is evident in the displays visual quality.
Considering design and hardware overall, the HTC Evo 3D presents itself as the better of the two handsets. The hardware spec is as impressive as any high-end smartphone on the market currently and build quality is as solid as we have come to expect from HTC. However, the Optimus 3D runs a very close second and does not fail to impress with its build-quality and spec, the tri-dual technology in particular being worthy of attention.
3D Specific Capabilities
Obviously, the major selling point for both of these handsets is in their ability to showcase 3D capabilities straight out of the box and it’s here that the Optimus really excels. Users have instant access to the striking 3D Space menu, which acts as a portal to all the contained 3D content and one-touch navigation to the YouTube 3D channel. Unfortunately the HTC Evo does not contain a similar feature and, with no dedicated 3D area, usability does feel compromised on the device.
Despite its lower screen resolution, the LG manages to convey real depth and sharpness with 3D content and performed admirably when lined up against the higher-specced HTC handset. The Evo 3D, whilst providing a less immersive experience, does compensate by offering a wider sweet spot so finding the ideal viewing position is a less drawn-out affair.
3D gaming proficiency is a key aspect to both the Optimus and Evo, with both offering outstanding playability and an absorbing gaming experience. The LG edges in front here as it offers a number of quality games out of the box, whereas the HTC device requires a software update and substantial downloads in order to receive any 3D games.
3D image capture, whilst an impressive feature on both devices, is limited to 3-megapixels on the LG and just 2-megapixels on the HTC meaning high-quality 3D output is near impossible on either device. That said, when images are composed correctly watching your photos jump into life on the screen is a joy. Similarly 3D video recording, whilst feeling like a novelty, can deliver decent enough results when recorded with thought. Both handsets record 3D video content at 720p with neither really excelling over the other.
On the whole the Optimus beats the Evo when it comes to 3D accessibility out of the box, with the 3D Space interface providing an immediate and gratifying experience for the user. The HTC’s more subtle approach to its 3D credentials is disappointing and ultimately frustrating, as the user has no central menu from which to exploit the handsets 3D capabilities.
Software And Non-3D Multimedia
Despite 3D being the main selling point for both of these devices, the Optimus and HTC are still impressive smartphones in their own right. The LG unit suffers a slight disadvantage here as it ships with the older Android Froyo as opposed to the HTC, which operates with Gingerbread. An upgrade to the newer OS is available for the Optimus, but we would have preferred to see the latest software available on start up.
It’s when we come to look at the UI that the Evo really shines, with the stunning HTC Sense 3.0 providing an intuitive and attractive interface for the user. The Optimus, whilst still providing the standard Android customisation options, offers a user experience that is at best adequate and at times uninspiring.
The upshot of the LG handset’s slightly limited UI capabilities is a more streamlined software package and, beyond the aforementioned 3D Space interface, bloatware is kept to a minimum. The HTC device however, despite having little in the way of a dedicated 3D package, contains a dizzying array of on-board apps, which can become disorientating when attempting to navigate the menu.
Overall, though, the HTC is the stronger phone when considering non-3D software capabilities. The HTC Sense UI is unquestionably user friendly and thanks to the top-end hardware spec scrolling and browsing is a swift, lag-free experience. The LG is by no means disappointing but at this price point should really be running the latest software from initial boot-up.
Conclusion And Verdict
The advent of 3D mobile devices is likely to see a plethora of handsets arrive on the market in the near future, however, these two handsets provide an insight as to what is possible when that extra dimension is available, with both taking a different approach. The LG Optimus likes to shout about its 3D credentials from the rooftops, whereas it appears that the HTC Evo wants to be seen as a top-end smartphone with 3D as an added extra.
Both approaches are commendable and indeed both have their weaknesses, however as a dedicated 3D device we feel that the lower-specced LG Optimus 3D is the better option. That said, if you’re looking for a handset that can offer real high-end smartphone functionality with the bonus of 3D capabilities, the HTC Evo 3D may be the device for you.